We live in a world of contradictory expectations and viewpoints regarding waist size.
This situation isn’t new. Historically, there have always been diverse ideas on what constitutes a healthy figure.
For women, a broad waist and hips have been linked to fertility and the promise of healthy childbearing. Yet those same waists have then been pushed into tiny corsets to give the illusion of a slim figure.
How the media portrays the human body
Today, we face similar contradictions in the way body shape is portrayed on television and in newspapers, magazines, and on social media.
On the one hand, we have the false illusion of what a body should look like. Just take a look at the photo-shopped images on the front of magazine covers. Or the perfectly proportioned participants of Love Island.
On the other hand, we have Plus sized clothes and elasticated waistbands to cater for the larger figure. And there’s no doubt we’re getting larger and taller. In industrialised countries, the average human height has gone up by up to 10 centimetres in the last 150 years.
What size should we be?
So, what are we to make of these two polar opposite views regarding the size of our waistlines?
As usual, the answer lies somewhere in between the two. While it’s a scientific fact that we’re getting taller, that doesn’t necessarily mean we should be getting much broader than our ancestors.
The cold hard fact is that it’s the availability of cheap and fattening fast foods and snacking that has led to our current problem with obesity. So much so, Cancer Research UK recently launched a series of ads resembling cigarette packs with warnings to highlight how obesity increases the risk of certain types of cancer.
Typically there was a backlash against this campaign, with some people accusing the organisation of ‘fat shaming.’ However, there’s no getting away from the fact that a study by Cancer Research UK found that excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking, with people who are obese outnumbering those who smoke.
Current medical advice regarding waist size
Medical opinion is firmly in favour of keeping waist size within recommended guidelines to avoid obesity-linked diseases.
Health professionals recognise that some health problems are affected by where your body stores fat. According to information provided by the NHS, too much fat around the middle can increase the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
They suggest measuring your waist to check you’re not carrying too much fat around your stomach. NHS advice on checking waist size is to follow these simple steps:
- Measure the waist by finding the bottom of the ribs and the top of the hips.
- Wrap a tape measure around the waist, midway between these points.
- Breathe out naturally before taking the measurement.
Check at a glance with Waistchecker
Waistchecker is a simple, colour-coded tape measure designed to highlight increased waist size and help keep track of weight loss – showing progress at a glance.
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